Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In New York for Research on Spring 2011's Release of Red Earth Courage

Rachelle and I have been enjoying our week in New York. We arrived Monday at Laguardia and drove two and a half hours north to Albany. On Tuesday we spent all day in the Research and Archives Division on the 11th Floor of the New York State Library and Cultural Center. I have been working for about a year and a half researching a book which will be released next spring on the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Red Earth Courage recounts the incredible true story of the Civil War's first secret mission.  My hometown, Enid, Oklahoma, is opening a new Smithsonian affiliated $8.5 million dollar museum this fall, and I am working on material for an exhibit covering this unique mission, which tangentially touches the land upon which our fair city is located. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the project for our community and state, and will conclude the research tomorrow. I intend to spend the next four months writing, and will having the manuscript ready for submission by September. Everyone in New York has been extremely helpful, and it has been a profitable week.

Yesterday Rachelle and I spent some time with West Point's military historian Alan Aimone, at the stunning United States Military Academy Library. One of the heroes of the Civil War's first secret  mission was an 1855 graduate of West Point, a man who after completion of the successful mission eventually became a Union General. Alan was able to assist us with some great background information concerning West Point at the beginning of the Civil War. Upon leaving the Library we went to visit Major Paige Heard. Major Heard is a Southern Baptist military chaplain and I've written before about her service as the Protestant Chaplain for the United States Military Academy. We were told upon arriving at West Point's Chapel that Major Heard had been promoted and transferred. We visited with the staff for a little while, all of whom complimented Chaplain Heard on her faithful ministry to the cadets, and then my wife took the picture you see to the right. I am standing in the building where Major Heard faithfully preached every Sunday to hundreds of cadets.

We were able to see all the beautiful campus of West Point, and the picture to the left is from Bear Mountain, looking east toward the Hudson River. The river runs from the north to the south, with its mouth at New York harbor, just 25 miles south of West Point. The military academy can be seen in the foreground of the picture, sitting the plateau above the western bank of the Hudson. It was a thrill for us to visit yesterday with  one of our church members, Trey Wheeler, who is graduating this Saturday as a member of West Point's Class of 2010. Trey was tops in his class his freshman year, served faithfully on the Army's Parachute Team all four years at West Point, and is now engaged to the valedictorian of the Class of 2010. His fiance is a young lady who will be addressing the cadets this Saturday along with President Obama. Rachelle and I dodged the Secret Service as they were already in full protection mode getting ready for the President's visit, but we enjoyed visiting with both Trey and his mother before the day was over.

We closed yesterday evening with dinner at a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant near Rockefeller Plaza in mid-town Manhattan. We have some work to in a couple of museums today (Thursday), and will be returning to Enid on Friday. It was a little surreal to walk down Broadway after dinner Wednesday and listen to my phone as our son, Logan, put his own phone next to the television set in Enid to allow me to hear the tornado coverage for the area. New York may have the throbbing pulse that goes with a cosmopolitan city, but little old Enid, Oklahoma has the heartbeat of a city shocked by the powerful defibrillator of unannounced tornadoes. Though I love Manhattan, I was sad I couldn't chase the tornadoes with my boys.

Oh well, springtime is not over.

P.S. Just as soon as I posted this, WNBC TV, New York City posted dramatic visual video images of the tornado just south of Enid and north of Hennessey. It's weird to sit in the Kimberly Hotel in mid-town Manhattan with the newscasters mentioning your hometown. The weatherman was shocked at the size of the tornado. To us Oklahomans, it was a little one. Lord willing, none of our church members who farm south of the city had any property damage.


Ken Colson said...

Wade, looking forward to reading the book. As a James Bond fan and also interested in the Civil War....your book should be very interesting. Stay SAFE in the Big Apple.

Bob Cleveland said...

I had awonderful meal a Torremolinos Restaurant, 230 E 51st St, some years ago. It is (was?) a true Spanish Restaurant, not Mexican. I loved it there.

Dare I say it, it was perhaps 1980....

Lydia said...

This sounds fascinating. Can you not give us a hint?

Spying during the Civil War is an interesting topic to read about. Ironically, some of the most interesting stories are about the women spys such as one of Jefferson Davis' maids. And that was a hanging offense back then.

Anonymous said...

I know the President's address would be on C-Span. Anyone know if the Academy will have the entire ceremony on streaming video, or archived?

Unknown said...

Sorry I missed you at West Point. I have moved twice since we last talked. God truly blessed me with the opportunity to minister to the cadets and military community at the Academy. Blessings to you and your family. said...

We are sorry we missed you to Paige! Keep up the great ministry!

Jeff Crawford said...

Wade - wish I knew you were going to be at West Point, my brother (Col. Crawford) teaches aerospace engineering there and lives on post. He would have loved to have hosted you. Great job describing the beauty of the campus. LOTS of history speaking from those old stones. Travel safe.

Christiane said...

I went back and found a comment I posted some time ago about my Family's civil war history.
I'd like to share it again:

" If we are sharing about family history involving the Civil War,
on my mother's side of the family, there is a Civil War hero.

His name: William James Ausbon, one of the six heroes of the Siege of Petersburg. The story is that he was a private in the Confederacy and was in, behind the 'works' with his brothers-in-arms. The Yankees lobbed a mortar shell into the works that 'spun around like a top', with a fuse burning down. My family member picked it up and threw it over the 'works' where it exploded harmlessly, saving many lives. He was awarded a silver medal by General Beauregard for his actions.
William James Ausbon was the brother of my great-grandfather, Joseph Gray Ausbon, of Plymouth N.C.

The family home still stands. My grandmother, of blessed memory, lived there as an infant. Today, it is on the walking tour of Plymouth as one of five ante-bellum homes.

The Ausbon House was itself the site of a skirmish. A confederate sniper was shooting from one of its windown. He was shot, staggered down the steps into the main hall, and died there.
The bullet holes are still visible upstairs, in the bedroom wall, and the Yankee cannon ball that lodged in the external chimney is now in a museum somewhere in N.C.

My cousin Neva now lives in the home year-round. She has letters from that time, and one of them, by 'Gib', my great-uncle McGilbray Ausbon, is heart-breaking in its humility and requests for a 'suit of clothes' to be made for him from a blanket. Reading the letter from 'Gib', I felt 'connected' to my family in a way that I had not felt before.

We need to write down our family histories. We need to remember those that came before us and those that built up this country. We need to collect and keep their letters and their diaries, so that they still may have a voice in this world. Love, L's
Thu Sep 17, 02:04:00 PM 2009 "

My sister is the family geniologist and she was instrumental in researching all sides of our family history. Strangely enough, there were slave-owners in the South, as well as those who helped escaped slaves in Canada, my father's homeland. There are probably many such family histories that people haven't written down to be shared with their children's children. My sister has interviewed and recorded talks with many in our family who have since passed on. I'm glad we have this rich source of information to give to own descendants.

Bob Cleveland said...

Incidentally, if you stumble across Nathan Hale in your research, I'm told he's in my family tree. Him, and ol' Grover, too.

Bob Cleveland said...


Don't go doing anything in my honor. I didn't even know it until my brother's best friend did an exhaustive family tree in his memory, after my brother's death.

I much prouder of being related to Peg.